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0:00 We Finally Made It To Paris!
0:27 What Have You Done Your First 10 Days?
1:12 How Are You Feeling?
1:43 What Are You Nostalgic For in the United States
2:10 What Are Our Kids Nostalgic For in the United States?
We’re here, made it, touched down! We haven’t posted anything since arriving. We’ve been ensconced in making our new home feel like a home, and we’ve wanted to take time to take it all in and come up for air.
It’s been a blitz, more so than we anticipated. You can easily dress up the best laid plans with the excitement of a move, going overseas, a mission focus, and yet there are day-to-day details of picking up your life and re-settling it in another place, a new environment, and in our case, a foreign country.
So amidst those plans are the nuts and bolts of making this new place a home and having the emotional space of letting that new home sink in. It’s a process, but it’s good. Acclimation is all about enjoying that process. The new it brings and the bumps it brings up. Regardless, I’ve been excited: to live here now, learn the lifestyle, let things play out, enjoy the differences. Thus far, I love the people we’ve met, their history, culture, weather (so far) and the beauty of the place.
We are in France, in the capital city Paris. For all it can conjure up, there is still much to get used to. First and foremost, everyone speaks another language. All the time. Yes, some know English and some command it well. But everyone speaks French and they appreciate it when you do too. So I try. It is broken. I do have an accent. It is strong. I know. It helps not to think of my accent at all and just say what you know, and then say it again.
There has been constant organization: making sure we get food from the grocery store, sheets for the beds, gas for the car, and not get lost from place to place. Then to begin un-packing, cleaning, unpacking, re-organizing, and cleaning again. All the while discovering this new world that is both a house, a neighborhood, a city, a lifestyle, and a life.
It is a new world in our hearts too. So it stretches my heart when one son asks when we will go back to the US before going to bed. Then asks the next night. And the next. One night he will stop asking. There are moments like this when you think, this is not what I signed up for. Yet it really is. There are mixed emotions. I’m excited for the adventure that lays ahead for all of us. As a protective father, I want everything to be set and in order for our children immediately. And it certainly is not.
The people we’ve met in our neighborhood and the people at our new church home (EIC Paris) have been great. They have set-up things, invited us to dinner and le goûter (more on this later), been present for mundane tasks, checked in when we were exhausted, and given us tons of useful advice. They have made us glad to have arrived, happy to be here, and looking forward to the future.
Most of all, I’m grateful – to be here, to those who helped us along the way, and to those who continue to walk with us – in both our old and new home. There have been challenges and setbacks. Sometimes it’s seemed like aplenty. Yet above all thankful to the Lord who always makes a way and directs our steps. I know the challenges and setbacks are in fact from Him – using them to grow, stretch, develop, and strengthen our faith. Because the steps we take are steps of faith. There will be more to come. The past few weeks (and year) have readied us to take the next ones.
We are in Paris! We haven’t posted on social media because it’s been one thing after another. At the end of August, we moved out of our house of 16 years & checked into a hotel on a Saturday; attended the closing for the sale of our house the following Monday; boarded a plane to Paris the very next Tuesday; and arrived in France with 15 pieces of checked luggage and 10 carryons that Wednesday. That was an exhilarating and exhausting 5 days.
I love adventure. With my old age, I can’t keep my adrenalin going like my naive youth, but perhaps that is good. Rest is important to revel in all the blessings of the last 3 weeks.
Relief and excitement were my first feelings when we touched down at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. A year delay has been tough in so many areas (more blog posts and videos to come). I told John Hugh this adventure is a re-start for our marriage, a re-examination of all the blindspots in our 30s that caught up to us in our 40s. Even though we are moving as a family, the marriage sets the tone for the move! So far, the changes making our marriage a tighter team have been so fruitful.
Our blessings have been enormous, even with a transatlantic move to a foreign country where no one in our family yet has a command of the language.
We arrived with our housing situated – a huge plus because you can’t open a French bank account without proof of residence or justificatif de domicile. Actually, you can’t enter your kids in school, apply for a French driver’s license, get a mobile phone, get wifi/internet/tv, and more without that proof of residence. You can’t rent an apartment in Paris without a French bank account, and you can’t open a French bank account without a proof of residence, the chicken and egg cycle many expats find themselves who desire to live in Paris.
Insert our new church home that has made this transition so seamless. We are living in a guest house connected to a member of Emmanuel International Church Paris, had our cell phones, wireless service, and bank account set up with help from the church, and have a vehicle on loan until we can purchase our first European car (yes, it will be smaller than a Ford F-150). If you have a bad view of evangelical church culture, you just haven’t visited the right church.
Beyond the logistics, I have woken up every morning knowing that some new challenge awaits me. In my 30s, I would have shirked and procrastinated and trapped myself in negative self talk that I can’t do things. In my 40s, I am going up to a French public school first thing in the morning with minuscule French to find out from the school administration about a hiccup in my child’s schedule.
I miss friends and family already, but I don’t miss the autopilot I had fallen into my last few years in the United States when life gets so easy and convenient you forget to be grateful. I have to rest to process all this newness, but I wake up revitalized to face fears and explore new terrain.
The best part is I can’t do this on my own. My faith is challenged before I put my feet on the floor. I have to pray before I get out of bed; I can’t survive without a big God by my side, a God who never fails to provide deep joy to my soul in a new country, new language, new insecurities, new missteps. I can embrace an unknown future without the guardrails of familiar comfort as long as I stay tethered to the most solid reality in all of life.
Make sure you read our follow-up post: First Challenges in France.
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In 2021, we have seen God graciously provide in the middle of a pandemic. Living through COVID-19 has taught us that seasons can change, timelines can change, but God’s mission does not. Read our vision for 2021 (3Ps for Paris) & think about becoming a Paris Partner today. Our Partners are the reason we can be in Paris to plant churches.